District hires consultant for replacement search; Bob Nehls takes interim post | SierraSun.com

District hires consultant for replacement search; Bob Nehls takes interim post

Renee Shadforth

With Pat Gemma relinquishing his role as superintendent, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board is set to begin the hunt for his replacement.

The district has hired Keith Daniels, a consultant with the California School Board Association, to conduct the search. Daniels was responsible for finding Gemma in 1998. If he uses his past methods, the consultant will interview the school board about what they will look for in a superintendent, and a committee of 20 to 25 community members will interview candidates for the position.

“It’s a big decision,” said school board member Cindy Gustafson. “We want the community to be involved.”

Critical issues the new superintendent will face are potential state budget cuts, declining enrollment and the district’s oversight of Prosser Creek Charter School, said board President Patricia Gibbons-Johnson.

Moreover, the new superintendent will head the biggest public agency in the area, with a $32 million budget.

“We’re used to somebody who likes to build on consensus,” Gibbons-Johnson said. “There’s a likeability factor [with Gemma]. He presents the district well, and he has financial skills.”

School board member Karen Van Epps said the 2003 committee needs to look for different qualities in a potential superintendent than the committee that hired Gemma in 1998.

“It’s all about timing,” she said. “When [Gemma] came in we needed change at that time. Right now we need a calm in our district. We want to be progressive, but we need to analyze the consequences of our choices beforehand. We need someone who isn’t reactive. We need a thinker.”

Foremost, Van Epps said, the new superintendent needs be involved for the students.

“That’s not a quality that’s easy to find. Too often [superintendents] get too caught up with the power and politics,” she said.

“We will have to do reorganization in our district, like any business does, and we want to make cuts furthest away from the kids.”

For the next six months, former business manager for the district, Bob Nehls, will come out of retirement to be the interim superintendent.

“I believe that [Nehls] has many qualities that our district would benefit from,” Van Epps said.

Gibbons-Johnson said bringing Nehls in as the interim will allow for a smooth transition.

“Personally, I’m really pleased,” she said. “We’re very happy that [Nehls] decided to do this.”